Can Europe Settle Georgian-Abkhaz Conflict?: Expert of World Association of International Studies at Stanford

Politics Materials 30 June 2008 19:23 (UTC +04:00)

Opinions of leading expert Tomoyuki Hashimoto, who is affiliated with World Association of International Studies at Stanford, especially for Trend .

The European Union has a dilemma when it comes down to secession movement in Georgia. Spain, for example, may not like to see "easy secession" as she has own secession problem. Greece and Cyprus become sensitive to the secession movement especially when Turkic minorities are involved in the issue. On the other hand, as we have seen in the recent NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit, Germany and France do not want to upset Russia by admitting Georgian and Ukrainian membership in NATO. Although, CFSP (Common Foreign and Security Policy) in the EU is now based on the majority rule, it is essential to obtain supports from large countries like France, Germany and the UK to fund any projects outside of Europe. Thus, it is hard to expect Europe (as a whole) helping to settle the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict.

That said, Europe (particularly Germany) is more than happy to help advancement of political stability in Georgia. The EU, in fact, launched judicial reform and training program (EUJUST THEMIS) for Georgia in 2004 (concluded in 2005). While willingness of Europe to be involved in a large scale project (i.e. military/police mission) is doubtful, other politico-social projects can be done at any point. In terms of willingness, capability, and capacity, the EU can help to settle the conflict if the both sides of the conflict asked the help.

The EU, in my opinion, is highly reactionary. Due to the fairly balanced system of decision making, any projects which lack consensus among member states are unlikely to survive. Thus, when a problem occurs, and when almost all member states see the significance of the issue, the EU moves. So far, however, the EU is not acting alone. Because of military assets guaranteed by the "Berlin Plus" agreement, the EU (or ESDP, European Security and Foreign Policy) is highly dependent on NATO and the UN.

At last, what the EU can do is one thing, what the EU wants to do is another, and what the EU will do is, once again, another thing although all three are interrelated. At this point, unfortunately, the EU is unlikely to curry out any missions in Georgia other than to maintain the status-quo. The EU lacks leadership in the conflict resolution. However, the EU is a useful and important part of international public, which the UN, for example, can lead. If the UN shows the EU the way in this particular conflict, the EU would and could achieve conflict resolution in Georgia through both civilian and military (including police) missions.

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